Editorial: Urgent solutions needed for former slum dwellers

A new real estate development initiative intends to kill two birds with one stone; redevelop a slum into a high-end residential area and relocate residents to a more spacious and well planned neighbourhood in Busanza, Kicukiro District.

Each family in the two zones – infamously nicknamed Bannyahe slum – will be given a modern flat in exchange for their old dwellings. The new location will also come with social amenities such as a health centre, vocational training centre, play areas, etc, an offer that someone living in a slum can’t refuse.

But there is a catch: many residents will find it difficult to get a roof over their heads because most are tenants and will not qualify for the new dwellings. They are made up of casual labourers who earn the bare minimum and are at the lowest rung of the earnings ladder. Some can only afford single rooms.

So, while the authorities will have succeeded in developing yet another turnkey real estate project, they will be left holding an enigma in their hands; what will they do with the newly created crop of homeless?

That matter should make leaders burn the midnight candle trying to come up with solutions to speed up the construction of affordable for all and also stem the flow of rural-urban migration, the real catalyst of the creation of slums. It is a tough nut to crack.